The question before us today: From among U of L, UNC or UT, which school's reputation has been hurt most by its recent trials?
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Rick Pitino's men's basketball program turned U of L into America's school for scandal.
First came the strippers/escorts for recruits imbroglio, followed this year by an allegation from the FBI that a U of L coach (or coaches) had knowledge of a plan executed with representatives of Adidas to make a six-figure payment to acquire a recruit for the Cardinals.
The cost to U of L of former Cardinals' men's basketball aide Andre McGee allegedly financing 22 shows by strippers/escorts for basketball recruits from 2010-2014 was steep. Louisville was ordered to vacate two Final Four trips (2012 and '13) and the 2013 NCAA title.
Problem is, Louisville remains in jeopardy of further damage. The federal government has asked the NCAA not to adjudicate cases arising from the on-going FBI probe of shady financial dealings in men's hoops recruiting until all have worked their way through the legal system.
That could take years, which could leave new Louisville men's hoops coach Chris Mack recruiting amidst an uncertainty that will be difficult to overcome.
Whatever happens going forward, being the first school to vacate a men's basketball national championship will be an ever-lasting scarlet letter for Louisville.
A UNC-commissioned report revealed in 2014 that more than 3,100 students — roughly 1,500 of whom were athletes — had been enrolled in "paper classes" from 1993 through 2011 at North Carolina in what was then the university's African and Afro-American Studies Department.
The Raleigh News & Observer reported that Tar Heels' men's hoops players were responsible for 230 enrollments in those "paper classes." On UNC's 2005 NCAA championship team, 10 players were African and Afro-American Studies majors
Yet after having used phony classes to help keep athletes eligible for almost two decades, UNC walked away scot-free from any significant NCAA punishment.
North Carolina acknowledged before its accreditation agency that the phony classes had constituted "egregious academic wrongdoing" — yet the university then denied that it was "academic fraud" in the context of the NCAA investigation.
Ultimately, the NCAA Committee on Infractions ruled last October that the existing college sports rulebook contained no grounds to punish UNC.
Outside the state of North Carolina, that ruling was met with widespread derision..
Even former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, leading the commission studying ways to combat corruption in college basketball, recently made a specific plea for the NCAA to close the loophole through which North Carolina evaded punishment.
Completing a prodigious year of campus chaos in Knoxville, Tennessee Chancellor Beverly J. Davenport was informed earlier this month that she was being removed from her job.
At one point, the university allowed a fan rebellion via the social media to sink an agreement to hire the coach it had chosen.
Mid-search, Tennessee changed athletics directors amidst allegations the AD who was being installed had been working behind the scenes to sabotage the hunt for a new football coach being conducted by the AD who got deposed.
Now, after only 14 months on the job, Davenport has been dismissed amid acrimony.
When Wayne Davis replaces Davenport as chancellor on an interim basis, he will be the fifth person (counting two interims) to hold that position at UT since 2008.
Phillip Fulmer is now the fourth person to serve as Volunteers athletics director since 2011.
New UT football coach Jeremy Pruitt is the fifth full-time Vols head man since 2008.
Heck, Rick Barnes is Tennessee's fourth men's basketball coach since 2011.
The University of Tennessee is dysfunction junction.
For years, North Carolina proclaimed "The Carolina Way" an example of the proper balance between big-time athletics and high-level academics.
The long-time use of phony classes to keep athletes eligible and the cynical posture UNC adopted to avoid punishment from the NCAA has turned "The Carolina Way" into a punch line.
From among "The Trio of Tumult," it is the reputation of the University of North Carolina that has been most altered.
Mark Story: 859-231-3230; Twitter @markcstory